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Larry Bird says notion that Pacers signed Bynum to keep him from Heat is ‘the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’

Feb 1, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

larry bird pacers AP

The Pacers signed Andrew Bynum for the remainder of the season, and some think it was a move based purely in defense — off the court, much more than on it.

Indiana has been the best team in the East over the first half of the season, and team chemistry has been at at all-time high. Head coach Frank Vogel has his players locked in on the singular goal of finishing the regular season with the league’s best record, so if there are any postseason Game 7s this year, they’ll be played on the Pacers’ home floor.

Adding a questionable personality in the middle of a successful season like this one seems to be a risky move for the Pacers, at least on the surface. Unless, of course, they have little use for Bynum in the grand scheme of things, and simply wanted to make sure he didn’t land on another contender’s roster.

That’s all pure nonsense to Pacers GM Larry Bird, however, who wasn’t exactly kind in responding to that specific allegation.

From Mark Montieth of Pacers.com:

“I ain’t worried about next year,” team president Larry Bird said following the Pacers’ game-day shootaround on Saturday. “We’re in the now. We’re going to do everything we can to go as far as we possibly can.” …

Bird scoffed at the notion that the Pacers might be signing Bynum merely to keep him away from Miami or other contending teams.

“We don’t have the money to throw around and let them sit on our bench,” he said. “That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The Heat were said to be one of the teams interested in Bynum once he became available, and the Pacers’ reported interest came a little bit later. Most assumed that Indiana would only grab Bynum as a preventative measure, in order to ensure that Miami didn’t scoop up another big body to deal with Roy Hibbert come playoff time.

But the reality is that Bynum isn’t really a fit for what the Heat do defensively, which has historically involved more active bigs who have been expected to be able to cover the ground necessary to get out to the perimeter on defensive rotations.

It’s been clear from the preseason that the Pacers are all-in this year, and Bird knows better than anyone how slim the window can be for a team’s title chances. He clearly believes Bynum is an upgrade to the bench and nothing else, but the fact that the Heat or another contender can’t have him now certainly doesn’t hurt Indiana’s long-term prospects.

  1. shanelsweet - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    I’d ask Larry how did Andrew convince you that he was an upgrade over the guys you have playing now? Did you work him out, or did you just take his word for it? You know, that sort of thing. Otherwise, I’m going to assign the stupidest reason I can think of like it was to keep him from Miami ’cause the whole thing seems stupid

  2. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    It’s far from dumb, and Miami isn’t the only team Bynum could’ve helped get to the Finals.

    • apkyletexas - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Completely wrong on both counts. Just saying it doesn’t make it in any way true.

    • rodyaugu - Feb 2, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      If the heat wanted Bynum they would’ve signed before the Pacers. He’s been off waivers for weeks.

  3. dolphindubs - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    The Pacers dont need Bynum to be able to compete with Miami, just like Miami doesnt need Bynum to compete with the Pacers. These teams are on equal footing without him.

    Just another random signing. *yawn*

    • casualcommenter - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      Agreed. Andrew Bynum in his current state is not a guy who tips the balance of power in the East.

      If he were that guy, he wouldn’t have sat on his couch for the past few weeks as a free agent with minimal interest from NBA teams.

      He’s a depth signing for the Pacers in case Hibbert or Manhinmi gets injured. He’s not going to be a featured part of their rotation otherwise. They have the best record in the East, and almost every guy in their current rotation has had at least a year to master into their systems on offense and defense.

      • program33 - Feb 2, 2014 at 12:27 AM

        It’s a smart move on Indiana’s part. Make no mistake Miami is definitely paying attention and is hoping that Greg O. will be ready to go come playoff time.

  4. gostlcards5 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    I love the stuff Bird says….no fluff. What’s more, it’s hard to disagree with what he says. The Pacers market is not huge, so it’s not like they can afford getting into the luxury tax or anything crazy like some teams could. I don’t think he would look into the move if it did not have a potentially higher reward than risk.

    • kinggw - Feb 2, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Signing Bynum didnt make them tax payers so all that small market stuff is irrelevant.

  5. ranfan12 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    I’m trying to be happy for bynum but it’s hard to support him with the way he approaches the game to be honest. I mean if bird can approve of giving him money to potentially be somewhat productive for them, then I can’t really argue with him. He’s where he is because he knows what I don’t

  6. casualcommenter - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Agreed with Bird. It’s dumb to think this was purely to keep him off the Heat because Bynum was a free agent for weeks prior to this signing.

    If the Pacers were worried about him joining the Heat, they would’ve made him an offer immediately after he cleared waivers to keep him away from the Heat.

    Instead, the Pacers let him sit on the market for weeks, despite the Heat having their mini-mid-level exception available to potentially offer to Bynum. The Pacers then figured he’d make a decent signing as a backup and got this deal done.

    • kinggw - Feb 2, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      How do you know they didn’t offer him right away? Bynum’s camp may have been waiting around to see if they’d get more money from Brooklyn or Miami.

      Or maybe after picking up as many losses in January as they had the entire season Bird realized the Pacers weren’t as dominant as he thought and needed to do something to stack the deck in his favor.

      What do you expect him to say, we signed Bynum to keep him away from the Heat? If that truly is the case there are several reasons why he couldn’t be up front about it. His explanation about not having money to waste in a small market is irrelevant. That comment only makes sense if signing Bynum made them a tax payer. They already had depth behind Hibbert in Ian Mahinmi who has been a decent backup, they didnt need Bynum. Mahinmi also makes four times what Bynum will make. If Bynum was really coming in to be Hibbert’s backup and not just sit at the end of the bench wouldn’t the cash conscious Pacers jettison a $4M per year third string center in Mahinmi? Bird is full of crap just like every other GM.

  7. thenmoveback - Feb 2, 2014 at 1:09 AM

    Guy is a cabbage, doesn’t care about his teammates or the team or the game itself. Pacer have a good team culture and a good thing going, don’t see why they would throw this guy in the locker room when they clearly don’t need a center…riles didn’t want this guy on the heat for a reason and it seemed no other team wanted him…cabbage

    • antistratfordian - Feb 2, 2014 at 2:17 AM

      The Pacers players didn’t seem excited to have him either.

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    When you make it clear to everyone that everything you do everyday for 2+ years is done with the goal of being better than the Heat, then people will think that everything you do was done in order to be better than the Heat.

  9. tmdill18 - Feb 2, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    You mean somebody who could actually protect the rim wouldn’t interest the Heat? That’s the second dumbest thing that Larry Bird ever heard.

  10. abchome - Feb 2, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    But most likely Bynum will just sit on the bench, or stay at his home.

  11. pmartsirrah - Feb 2, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    When Bynum wants to play he can. Good chance to get a ring.

  12. blazermaniac22 - Feb 2, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Kinggw said it best.. I suggest you all read his post

  13. miamatt - Feb 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Bird is correct on this: the Heat were never going to sign Bynum. Even Bynum’s agent eventually admitted that Miami had never contacted him in any way.

  14. dbfan4ever - Feb 2, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Hibbert is not the main problem for the heat. The real problem is they don’t have anyone that can cover D West!

  15. scbaby2013 - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Of anything this gives the bench more support. When healthy Bynum is a great asset. Pacers aren’t looking for him to start. He can come in, back up their center. You can’t teach length/height. If Bynum attitude toward game is on point watch out, cus this bench just got better.

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